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Friday, January 27, 2012

Squoozing Down

Chris’s January 5th
blog, Thoughts On Stuff: Trash or
Treasure, ( got me thinking about the things we hold onto and the things we let go.

My mom moved a lot in the last 15 years of her life. First she sold the 4 bedroom row house where we grew up and she rented a much smaller two bedroom row. Over the next 10 years, she moved 3 more times to smaller apartments. Each move required her to shed stuff and she
coined the term “squoozing down” for this process of giving up the precious bits and pieces she had accumulated over the years.

Each time she squooze down and again when she died, my siblings and I acquired more of her treasures. Among mine, I count her antique library table, hosier cabinet, and hope chest, a
chipped green ceramic vase that leaks, her red polo I never wear but that hangs front and center in my closet, and the sparkly snow-white mama hugging her baby I selected from Mom’s snowman collection.

Ok, so far pretty normal, right?

When she died we emptied closets and drawers, packed box after box of her knickknacks, clothes and housewares to donate to the senior center and other charities. Most of it, I let go without undue agony. Yet when I came across a tattered envelop with my cousin’s name scrawled in my mom’s handwriting, I could not let it go. I store stamps in it in my desk drawer. I also still have the last dozen or so emails she sent me. Maybe strangest of all, Mom’s phone number is still stored on my cell phone.

February 8th will be the fourth anniversary of her death. The phone number must belong to someone else by now.

So what keeps me from hitting delete to erase the word Mom and her number from my phone?


  1. I can so relate. Just recently cleared some of my things to make room and shed my previous life and came across my mom's pink bathrobe. I can still see her standing at the kitchen sink wearing it. I knew it still carried her DNA and her scent after all these years and still could not discard it. At this same cleaning I finally was able to throw away my dad's robe & slippers but when I looked at her robe, I just couldn't do it. That bond is so deep it doesn't go away even after 13 years.

    1. Claudia, you remind me that I kept my mother-in-laws tattered white robe. It hung unused in our bathroom for over 13 years -even survived our bathroom renovation. Last year, I finally let it go. the Ah-ha for me is that my memory her wearing it at the kitchen table is still as clear as ever. I don't need the robe to keep that picture in my heart.

  2. Carol, this really touched me. I, too, cannot bring myself to delete my grandmom from my cell phone. I just can't do it. And she died 3 years (and two cell phones) ago. I have many of her things in my house. Right after she died, it was hard to see them. The first time I used her Christmas table cloth, I cried. But now I love having them around - concrete reminders of who she was and how much she meant to me. Though seeing her handwriting can still make me cry.

  3. Chris BradyJanuary 29, 2012


    I think we keep these mementos of our loved ones for a lot of reasons. They comfort us in some way, they honor the person we loved, and in some way, they allow us to communicate with our lost love in a thought or a prayer. Loved this post.

  4. I can so relate to your post and all the comments. Just want you to know, Carol, that my Aunt Renee (and my best friend) died October 1, 2008, but I still have her voice on my cell phone voicemail. I miss Aunt Renee every day and when I am really pining for her, I listen to her voice. Thanks for your touching post.

  5. thanks Mary and all. As Chris says, these memories and mementos are a sort of prayer honoring our loved ones. I wish I had my mom's voice on my phone too.

  6. I've gotten to the stage in my life where I've made a pact with myself. If something (other than food) comes in the house, something has to go out. At first it was easy but it's getting harder. Some of the things that are leaving aren't entirely "expendable" but I'm getting better at doing without things, especially those things that have cluttered my closets for years.

    1. Christina, sometimes to meet my throw something out if you bring in something new goal, I clean out the junk drawer. Throwing out a rubber band might be a stretch (pun intended) but I give myself credit for trying :)
      ps. see you on Goodreads